In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

OperationDavid Craig
Close
Close

The condition (cancer) and the person (myself)
Reeled towards each other over the years,
Capsules slowly converging. Now they have docked –
‘Raped!’ the Soviet spacemen used to shout
As the new arrival fitted in.

                                              The surgeon
Is using homely words: ‘We will take away
Everything except the nerves and muscles’
(That’s sound, just what I would have done myself).
‘The drains are rather a gamble, but presently
The lymph will find a new route through your body.’
His voice is cool, managerial, green eyes steady
Above the plump cheeks fledged with steely stubble.

Steady is good. I want him perfect – perfectly
Drawing his scalpel round below my armpit,
No tremor, no indecision, his focus keen
As a kestrel swithering over its prey, then stilled
As a cloud in Nevada, brain become all eye,
Sharpening and fining-down each grass-blade, wind-twitch,
Bee-shadow, mouse-breath, muscle-fibre, nerve-end,
Blood-vessel, vein-valve, lymph-gland, cancer-nodule ...
The steel beak is sure. It feels and knows.
The hit is imminent. This programme cannot stop.
The invisible brain distils its brilliant drop.

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